It’s not uncommon for college teams to invite former NFL stars to their spring games to serve as honorary captains. But inviting someone who has never taken a picture for school? It’s new.
But that’s what Michigan football is doing, as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will serve as honorary captain at Saturday’s Maize and Blue Spring Game, the school announced via Twitter on Wednesday.
The school tweeted photos of Kaepernick at the Michigan Training Center with the caption:
“Excited to share the field with our Honorary Captain for Saturday’s Maize and Blue Spring Game, @Kaepernick7 #GoBlue”
Kaepernick hasn’t thrown a pass in the NFL since 2016. No NFL team signed him after that season, in which he sparked a national debate by kneeling during the national anthem played before the NFL games. Recently, however, Kaepernick has been working with Seattle Seahawks players amid rumors of an NFL deal circle.
CORN AND BLUE DETAILS:Spring 2022 game details announced
The Nevada alum’s time with the 49ers overlapped with that of Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh from 2011 to 2014. The 49ers drafted Kaepernick in the second round in 2011 under Harbaugh’s supervision. Harbaugh then installed Kaepernick as starting quarterback midway through the 2012 season; the QB led the 49ers to the Super Bowl, where they lost to coach John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans.
Kaepernick had 12,271 yards, 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in 69 games with the 49ers.
When Kaepernick began to sit, then kneel, during the anthem, Harbaugh was asked for his thoughts on the statement.
“I recognize his right to do so,” Harbaugh said in August 2016, “but I don’t respect the motivation or the action.”
A few minutes later, Harbaugh clarified his position on Twitter: “To clarify, I support Colin’s motivation. It is his method of action that I challenge.”
Over the next year, after discussing the protests with his players, Harbaugh was active in supporting the quarterback, writing an op-ed for Time Magazine during the 2016–17 offseason:
“At times in our nation’s history, we have been too quick to judge and oppose our fellow Americans for exercising their First Amendment right to deal with things they deem unfair,” Harbaugh wrote. “Rather than smear their character, we should celebrate their deed. Because we cannot pioneer and invent if we are afraid of deviating from the norm, damaging our public perception or, more importantly, damaging our own personal interests.
“I thank Colin for all he has contributed to football as an exceptional player and trusted team-mate. I also applaud Colin for the courage he has shown in exercising his guaranteed right to freedom of expression. His willingness to take a stand at his expense is now part of our American history. How fortunate for all of us and for our country to have among our citizens someone as remarkable as Colin Kaepernick.”
Harbaugh also supported Kaepernick on the football field during the offseason, telling the Rich Eisen Show in March 2017, “I also think he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League.
“His leverage isn’t very high right now, but remember, he played in a team last year that struggled a lot. He tied it down in every game. He doesn’t get injured. When the bell rings, Colin Kaepernick responds.. .. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll be on a team, whether it’s closer to the draft or right after the draft… I know he is preparing like crazy. And he’ll be fully fit and ready to go when he shows up at camp.”
Kaepernick has since filed and settled a lawsuit against the NFL, alleging collusion to keep him out of the league. He and his 49ers teammate Eric Reid reportedly received less than $10 million in the settlement.
The gates to the game at Michigan Stadium open at 11 a.m. and the team will enter the field for warm-ups at 11:30 a.m. The event is free for fans, and the grounds surrounding the university-run big house will be free. and open. to the public from 7 a.m. Car parking at Pioneer High School will be charged $30.